From (V)LCD’s to Paleo and whole foods- part 2: the headache

Where was I?  When I last posted, I had finished Optifast and was feeling miserable.  Little did I know the worst was yet to come. (I do apologise for the length of this post.)

A few months after stopping Optifast and going back to a standard American diet (SAD) I felt okish, still tired due to the vitamin D deficiency, and frustrated at my lack of progress.

And then the headaches started.  Or should I say headache?  (Up until the past 2 months, I had not known a day without headache and it is my personal opinion that the Optifast triggered something within me- hence the headache.)  The first neurologist tried a few things and when that didn’t work she referred me to a neurologist/headache specialist (Neuro #2).

Neuro #2 was a respected doctor but very unsympathetic.  He put me on an elimination diet to start (Common, to remove headache triggers and then add in to see if there are reactions.  At the time I didn’t even eat many of the trigger foods, and none were found to trigger headaches.), the addition of supplements such as B50 and magnesium, and tried a dozen different medications to no avail (beta blockers, painkillers, blood pressure medication; I am sure I spent well over $1000 on prescriptions and doctor visits).  The worst by far was Topamax (dopamax) as it is jokingly referred to.  It pretty much made me a space cadet who felt like she had flu.  I was unable to think at all, and I do think that this month on dopamax cost me a job that I had as I was unable to perform adequately.

I tried very hard to keep the medical issues out of my professional life.  Some of my closer colleagues knew of my struggles, but I didn’t want to have to let my boss know about what was going on; I wanted to rise above it.

And then I had to get a (second) spinal tap. (The first was attempted in the middle of a blizzard when I went to the ER.  Neuro#2 was called and he told them to withhold treatment until I consented to a spinal tap.  I told the ER docs I would have consented to amputation to not be in pain. The tap failed, if you were wondering.  And they are nothing like what you see on telly.) I sadly had to let my boss know about my issues at this point because despite having the procedure done during school vacation, I still needed to miss some work because I couldn’t get out of bed due to the pain.

What does this have to do with weight loss and exercise you might be asking?  Well, there was a definite lack of both during this time.  I was in so much pain every day that just getting up and going to work was tiring enough.  I felt miserable, and when I looked back on Neuro #2s notes, he referred to me as an fairly obese female who was a whiner and a complainer (I don’t deny that I am both, but I found it unprofessional for him to refer to me in that way.)  I did everything I could during that time to eat well and workout, but I did surrender to the pain.  I loved the gym I was at, but working out in that much pain wasn’t happening.

My diet wasn’t really varied, and it wasn’t really healthy although I must have thought so.  I had an coffee and a bagel or muffin for breakfast, Lean Cuisine type meal or salad for lunch, and dinner tended to be salad, a sandwich, or a Lean Cuisine.  Sometimes I would have microwaved veggies and rice.  I didn’t have a lot of money; my mother pretty much subsidised my groceries and gas (petrol).  I wish I knew then what I know now about whole foods.

This period covers the last 7 years of my life. By 2010, I was on my 4th neurologist, was trying out nerve blocks, and was doing my best to stay active.  I was finally diagnosed as having  New Daily Persistent headache.

I had finally gotten down to about 190 pounds at this time.  Not only was I dealing with the headaches, but I also had back pain.  After meeting some teachers at my substitute teaching job who raved about their experiences, I looked into getting a breast reduction (I was around a 42-46DD at this time and was miserable.)  I was approved and had surgery that summer. (Look for my three year surgery anniversary post next week! Here’s my 2 year surgiversary post. 🙂  )


Next in this series: Scotland, weight lifting and whole foods


Have you ever dealt with a chronic condition?


    • 19/07/2013 / 18:02

      NDPH is a relatively new diagnosis. I think it’s been around since the 60’s but wasn’t really used much until the 80’s. It is sadly the diagnosis you get when doctors can’t find anything wrong with you or can’t label your symptoms into migraine or tension headaches.

      I keep hoping with every new doctor I see, I will get a more definitive diagnosis, but after 7 neurologists I am really tired of doctors!

      Thanks for reading and commenting. 🙂
      Cindy recently posted…From (V)LCD’s to Paleo and whole foods- part 2: the headacheMy Profile

  1. 19/07/2013 / 14:50

    My goodness, just poking around your blog and reading this post – you have been through a lot and overcome so much. You’re an inspiration!

    I have never had a daily persistent headache, but when I do get migraines, I am done for about 24 hours. That can’t compare to dealing with it daily, but I can relate to how it takes everything out of you. I hope you get some answers!
    Elizabeth recently posted…Fit Friday – I Need Your Help!My Profile

    • 19/07/2013 / 18:10

      Thank you! It means so much to hear that.

      It has been a struggle. After 7 neurologists I am totally done with doctors but I would be willing to undergo any tests at this point to give me a more accurate diagnosis (I’ve been told there’s nothing else but who knows as medicine improves all the time.)

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and to comment. 🙂
      Cindy recently posted…From (V)LCD’s to Paleo and whole foods- part 2: the headacheMy Profile

  2. 20/07/2013 / 18:19

    I looked it up and it sounds just vile, fingers crossed for a magic bullet some day.
    Mercy recently posted…Out and aboutMy Profile

    • 21/07/2013 / 19:52

      It’s so crap. I live in hope that one day it will just magically disappear! 🙂

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